Kidderminster-based Beakbane is helping to encourage the engineers of tomorrow by supporting a new engineering club at a local school, Baxter College.

The first project for the club, which is also supported by local car dealership, Hills Ford, will be to build and race an electrically powered car in the national IET Formula 24 competition.

Mike Southwell, Beakbane’s Managing Director, said: “The aim of the club is to get young people interested and involved in engineering at a time when they can still make decisions about their future careers.”

The link between Beakbane and Baxter College came via local Wyre Forest MP Mark Garnier, who had visited both and realised that there would be a mutual benefit in putting the two together.

Mike Southwell says: “Beakbane was looking for an opportunity to encourage young people in the area to develop engineering skills and make their careers in the sector. We told Mark Garnier about the difficulty we sometimes had in finding the right apprentices and that ideally we wanted to be working with kids before they were 16 to fire up the passion for engineering at an early age so that they would choose it as a career. I met with the headmaster of Baxter College and he suggested we should get involved with the club.”

The 12 members of the club, two girls and ten boys, all aged between 14 and 16, meet once a week after school in their own time. The car comes as a basic kit and the club will design and make additional parts such as the body shell.

Head of Science at Baxter College, Simon Gough, who runs the club says: “The car is supposed to take 15 hours to build, but I reckon we will do it in half the time. The aim is to have it built by Christmas, test it and then in spring we will hopefully be taking part in our first races.”

Mike Southwell says: “We are looking at all kinds of different ways we can help them. We will offer advice, help with manufacturing and materials, go along and get involved in their sessions and provide financial support for things like team clothing. We are very flexible and what we provide depends on what they think they need.”

The club is certainly looking to draw on Beakbane’s expertise in strong, lightweight composite materials for the body of the car.

Simon Gough says: “Beakbane have said that when we have designed the body shell they will make it for us. We hope that the students will be able to go and look at it being made and then fit it on the car. So they will learn about modern materials too. It brings together lessons from science with design and technology.”

He adds: “They are getting the practical engineering skills that make them more employable and are just the kind of skills that companies like Beakbane and Hills Ford are looking for.”

Mike Southwell concludes: “This is something that these girls and boys are doing in their own time and on their own initiative. This is something they all chose to do. In fact, they had to go through a process of putting their CV forward before they could join the club.

“They are doing something that is fun and will be useful for the future. Not just for Beakbane but for the local community and UK manufacturing in general. The school has been really good too. They are really up for it and have really considered what they can bring to the project.”